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Thread: Surge events causing damage at church

  1. #1
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    Surge events causing damage at church

    My home church was rebuild about 15 years ago due to the original church burning down. The new church has suffered several major events that has resulted in damage to multiple pieces of electronics. The average probably isn't one a year but there have been enough that something needs and should have been done about it.

    The last few issues have been traced to thunderstorms. Church is in Eastern NC.

    I completely understand lightning (if that is the true cause) is a very tricky item to deal with and even with properly installed products to mitigate the effects could have varying results.

    There is CSST in the building that was not bonded during install. There is one lightning rod on steeple with a single down conductor to a ground rod. This down conductor was routed down through a chase within inches of a CSST line. Within the past year they had a contractor bond the gas system to code. The down conductor was also removed from the chase and routed externally to the ground rod. They also added two ground rods on top of existing so there is now a total of 24' of ground rod.

    Since then they had another event (not surprised) that scrambled programmed devices and destroyed a projector. I am not looking for info to lead some DIY effort to address this issue. I am simply requesting a list of things to consider when trying to address this problem. What are the major things that could be contributing to the events or that could help mitigate the events?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by robeward View Post
    My home church was rebuild about 15 years ago due to the original church burning down. The new church has suffered several major events that has resulted in damage to multiple pieces of electronics. The average probably isn't one a year but there have been enough that something needs and should have been done about it.

    The last few issues have been traced to thunderstorms. Church is in Eastern NC.

    I completely understand lightning (if that is the true cause) is a very tricky item to deal with and even with properly installed products to mitigate the effects could have varying results.

    There is CSST in the building that was not bonded during install. There is one lightning rod on steeple with a single down conductor to a ground rod. This down conductor was routed down through a chase within inches of a CSST line. Within the past year they had a contractor bond the gas system to code. The down conductor was also removed from the chase and routed externally to the ground rod. They also added two ground rods on top of existing so there is now a total of 24' of ground rod.

    Since then they had another event (not surprised) that scrambled programmed devices and destroyed a projector. I am not looking for info to lead some DIY effort to address this issue. I am simply requesting a list of things to consider when trying to address this problem. What are the major things that could be contributing to the events or that could help mitigate the events?
    If the damage wasn't caused by direct strikes but rather by induced surges I doubt that more lightning rods and/or grounding are going to help. Is there a building surge suppressor at the service entrance? What about any sub panels? Is there local surge suppression for high-dollar items (eg on a power strip)? A "defense in depth" approach is where I'd start.

  3. #3
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    On the list of 'things for an appropriate contractor to evaluate':

    Is the lightning protection system installed to NFPA 780. I am not an expert on lightning protection systems, but I thought you had to have 2 down conductors.

    Are the lightning protection grounding electrodes properly bonded to all other grounding electrodes? Separate electrode systems can actually cause problems, where ground currents from a nearby strike get conducted in via one electrode and out via another.

    Are all system grounding electrodes properly bonded together?

    -Jon

  4. #4
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    I forgot to mention there is not a surge suppressor on the service entrance or anywhere that i am aware of. that was the first recommendation i made.

    They do have a main 3-phase switchboard with sub panels spread about. on the HVAC uses 3-phase with.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by winnie View Post
    On the list of 'things for an appropriate contractor to evaluate':

    Is the lightning protection system installed to NFPA 780. I am not an expert on lightning protection systems, but I thought you had to have 2 down conductors.

    Are the lightning protection grounding electrodes properly bonded to all other grounding electrodes? Separate electrode systems can actually cause problems, where ground currents from a nearby strike get conducted in via one electrode and out via another.

    Are all system grounding electrodes properly bonded together?

    -Jon
    All great questions that I asked myself. I will be doing some reading in 780 to see if there is anything suspect. I have also recommended a very good lightning protection company to consult with.

    I don't think the LPS electrodes are bonded to the electrical grounding system. They are on opposite sides of the building. Not sure in this scenario it would matter. As of now it is just a single conductor running up the outside of the building so not sure there is really a way for it to interact with the building wiring. But then again this is lightning so its anybody's best guess. The electrode is buried very close to the slab of the building and I haven't had a chance to see if they are using a CEE or if a ground rod was buried.

    The first step I was going to do was check to make sure everything above ground is bonded together. I guess I am on the right track

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by robeward View Post
    All great questions that I asked myself. I will be doing some reading in 780 to see if there is anything suspect. I have also recommended a very good lightning protection company to consult with.

    I don't think the LPS electrodes are bonded to the electrical grounding system. They are on opposite sides of the building. Not sure in this scenario it would matter. As of now it is just a single conductor running up the outside of the building so not sure there is really a way for it to interact with the building wiring. But then again this is lightning so its anybody's best guess. The electrode is buried very close to the slab of the building and I haven't had a chance to see if they are using a CEE or if a ground rod was buried.

    The first step I was going to do was check to make sure everything above ground is bonded together. I guess I am on the right track
    Is the damage being caused by direct strikes or surges coming down the wire from remote strikes?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadfly56 View Post
    Is the damage being caused by direct strikes or surges coming down the wire from remote strikes?
    I would consider this far more likely to be the culprit here. If the lightning rod and wiring is up to code, that helps protect from a DIRECT HIT, but does nothing if the hit is next door. But the surge from the hit next door, or next town over, will come in on the lines and fry things. They need a good lightning / surge protection system.
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  8. #8
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    Doesn't the appliance bond cover the CSST? I thought there were no additional bonding requirements for that? Or am I thinking of something else?


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by brantmacga View Post
    Doesn't the appliance bond cover the CSST? I thought there were no additional bonding requirements for that? Or am I thinking of something else?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Your thinking of the regular black pipe is effectively bonded by an appliance not CCST

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadfly56 View Post
    Is the damage being caused by direct strikes or surges coming down the wire from remote strikes?
    My question is how would you know? Thats why I think both the existing LPS needs to be surveyed and a SPD installed to address both issues.

    Another question. If there are several sub panels spread throughout the church should they consider installing SPDs at those as well? I guess it can't hurt but just a matter of how far you want to take it.

    Are receptacles like this worth the time to install for the big items like sound boards and projectors?
    https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5280-.../dp/B0006I33Y6

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